The line was long, as it always was on a work day at that hour. They would be harried and overwhelmed by the sheer number of human workers. They would be more likely to make mistakes. Assuming they made mistakes; no one was sure.
"Step forward." The Vylid had a soft, raspy voice like a dry wind blowing through crumpled paper. The man three people in front of Marla moved hesitantly up to stand at the white line, between the pair of huge Grodon guards.
From behind her, a whisper. "I don't recognize you."
Marla, standing with arms crossed in front of her, said nothing.
The whisper came again. "Are you supposed to be here?"
Marla glanced over her shoulder: a middle-aged woman, too thin. "There's no talking in line."
The woman moved forward, staying just behind Marla. "Where are you from?"
"You're going to get us punished, we shouldn't be talking."
"They don't care, if you're quiet." The woman leaned in closer. "They'll scan you. They scan everyone. You know that, right?"
Marla ran her thumb over the three symbols on her forearm. The brand felt strange, foreign. "I'm where I'm supposed to be."
Marla would be next. One of the massive guards stepped heavily away from the table, came lumbering slowly down the line, came right past her.
The woman whispered again when the guard was out of earshot, "It's all right, you can tell them you got on the wrong bus, that you made a mistake."
Marla didn't hesitate; the die was cast now.
She handed her ID card to the remaining guard, who handed it to the seated Vylid. The willowy creature typed something into its computer, and then nodded to the guard. Marla offered her arm.
The Grodon held a scanner against her forearm where the three symbols were tattooed on a grafted piece of a dead woman's skin. The scanner beeped.
The raspy voice spoke to her. "Move through."